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Conservatives call for new relationship between Council and Trade Unions

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Conservatives are calling for a fundamental review of the role that Trade Unions play within Brighton & Hove City Council after figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed just how extensive their influence is within the organisation.

  • 7 members of staff working full-time for their Trade Union whilst being paid by the Council, costing taxpayers 278,000
  • A further 161 local workplace representatives who also receive paid time off to undertake Trade Union activities. This includes 3 full-time union representatives in Cityclean.
  • 19 Union Learning Representatives who receive paid time off
  • There is no central monitoring of the amount of paid time off taken by Trade Union officials meaning that the Council cannot give an accurate cost to council taxpayers of Trade Union activity.
  • There is no central recording of conferences attended by Trade Union officials.
  • The Trade Union Facilities Agreement between the Council and the recognised Trade Unions, which sets out the various paid time off arrangements, has never been formally reviewed despite it being written into the Agreement that it should be subject to regular review
  • There are flagrant breaches of the Facilities Agreement by the Trade Unions such as displaying material on noticeboards in public areas of Council buildings urging staff to take strike action.

The recent Peer Review of Brighton & Hove City Council by the Local Government Association concluded that the Councils relationship with the Trade Unions leaves a lot to be desired. Just 23% of Council staff themselves think that the Council and Trade Unions have an effective working relationship.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, who uncovered the figures said: It is clear that the current relationship between the Council and the Trade Unions has completely broken down. We need sensible and realistic Trade Unions who are willing to work constructively with the Council to help introduce the modernising reforms to Council services that are happening in other councils of all political colours up and down the country. Instead, here in Brighton & Hove we have highly politicised full-time Union officials whose default reaction is to try and block any sensible measures that the Council puts forward. I personally dont believe that these Trade Union bosses have the support of the majority of ordinary union members. Nationally, just 8% of Unison members voted to support the Council strike in July and only a third of our staff actually walked out on the day. I think that residents who are suffering as a result of the current bin dispute that has been rumbling on for the past year or so, will be shocked at how much of their council tax is handed over to officials to foment this and other disputes. I am calling on officers immediately to give notice to terminate the current Facilities Agreement and draw up another one which is more suited to a modern, flexible 21st century organisation. If they do this, I will back them all the way.